Jaguar Land Rover will lead a new autonomous cars research programme funded jointly with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
The £11m programme will look at some key technologies and questions that need to be addressed before driverless cars can be allowed on the roads without jeopardising the safety of other road users, including cyclists and pedestrians.
The funding will be divided between five projects focusing on systems that would allow cars to better map the surrounding environment, efficiently communicate with the drivers and adjust to their needs.
The five projects have been selected from a pool of submissions after a joint call for proposals.
“To realise the future potential for fully autonomous vehicles, we need to give drivers, pedestrians and other road users the confidence that a car driving around with little or no human input is a safe, viable and rewarding experience,” said Wolfgang Epple, Director of Research and Technology at Jaguar Land Rover. “These collaborative projects will bring some of the UK’s leading academics together with our autonomous driving team to address the fundamental real-world challenges that are part of our journey towards autonomous driving.”
A team led by the universities of Birmingham and Edinburgh will focus on the development of new radar sensors and advanced video analysis that would allow the cars to better identify obstacles and hazards on the road.
Researchers from the universities of Cambridge and Southampton will study drivers’ reactions to autonomous vehicles, with the aim of designing the best driver-vehicle interaction.
University College London engineers together with Cranfield University researchers will look into the effects of automated driving on drivers’ attention and cognition and their possible negative impact on driving.
A team from the universities of Surrey and Warwick and Imperial College London, together with the Transport Research Laboratory, will focus on combining the connected car concept with autonomous driving.
In a separate project, the University of Warwick researchers will focus on the development of a self-learning car that will minimise distractions, enhance safety and deliver a personalised driving experience.
“This joint investment shows how strategic partnerships between the research councils, universities and business can identify industry’s challenges and build the academic expertise needed to meet them,” Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC’s Chief Executive commented. “The universities and partners in these projects will take novel approaches to safely change the way we travel in the future.”